Despite every holiday period being followed by black headlines trumpeting something the newspapers call “the holiday road toll” (a ritual undoubtedly part of a Calvinist heritage preaching every pleasure must be paid for), the number of deaths on roads in the holiday period is actually no more statistically than they are at any other time of year.
This is in spite of newspapers attempting to divine meaning in numbers that themselves represent too small a sample from which to divine anything.
In fact, as Chris Worthington from Infometrics points out in one of those great “check-your-premises” posts, it’s astonishing to discover that while everyone drives a heck of a lot more during their holidays, fatalities in general occur only 20% more frequently than they do at non-holiday times, and injuries only 5% more. Which is to say, as Worthington does say, “that, despite the large amount of media attention given to it, the holiday period is not strikingly a more dangerous time to drive.”
And on the general “road toll” (that grim Calvinist cliché used to suggest the near-inevitability of some bodies being forced to pay the piper for venturing out onto the sinful tarmacadam of terror) Worthington has more good news:
“Annual road fatalities have fallen from around six per 10,000 vehicles in the early 1950s to about one now – modern drivers have just 20% the annual mortality risk of drivers two generations earlier.”
So why, then, do we require all those interminal tax-paid TV ads warning us against enjoying ourselves when we get out and about behind the wheel? You’d have to wonder, wouldn’t you.